Tuesday, May 26, 2009
As usual, Memorial Day brought out the same old guilt trip about honoring our brave soldiers, even though our wars are generally invasive rather than defensive. Meanwhile, more soldiers are committing suicide and fewer are being killed by suicide bombers. According to the Washington Post, "Many soldiers are now in the midst of their third of fourth combat tour, and Army surveys show that mental health deteriorates with each one."
The fact that our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have required our soldiers to kill far more women and children than alleged terrorists, with no sure end in sight, isn't helping their mental health any.
If we really respected our soldiers' honor, we wouldn't be wasting them like this. We would be reserving their strength and service for a time when it will really matter, such as when we are actually attacked by another nation.
Apparently one of the people responsible, if not accountable, for these and other betrayals of democracy and international law, has been raising obscene amounts of money for his presidential library. I suspect more victims of emotional extortion have been scammed.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
It turns out that the race goes to those who can wait, according to Jonah Lehrer in the New Yorker. Based on research with roots in the 1960s, kids who can figure out how to postpone one treat in order to get two usually grow up to be more adept in school and in life.
The ability to control one's choices and actions, to choose to delay gratification for a better long-term outcome, helps tortoises think ahead and plan their futures.
It also turns out that poor kids tend to have more trouble waiting. Fortunately, it also turns out that many kids who are hares for treats can learn the self-control strategies that are instinctively used by natural tortoises. So there's no reason to think that poverty is hereditary; rather, poor people don't have many gratifications that they can practice delaying.
Basically, all you have to do is control what you are thinking about, what you are paying attention to. Meditation is perhaps the oldest and best practice for paying attention. While it may or may not raise your IQ, it can help you use your head. And meditation usually improves your emotional intelligence too!
But I can't help noticing that we live in a culture where we are constantly extorted by advertising to act like hares, to work and earn more, to buy and consume more and more junk products, to worry about winning the image race, instead of just being ourselves and being good for ourselves.
If you can't be good enough for yourself, you'll never win your own race or your own life.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The crusade against David Thompson, who may or may not still be the pastor of Westeminster Presbyterian Church, makes me wonder why gays want to participate in any club that includes the sort of selfish and intolerant people who want to monopolize marriage.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of marriage was expanded several centuries ago to describe the integration of two entities which were not even human, let alone hetero. So that horse has escaped the barn and died long since.
Perhaps it's just my personal preference to simply go away and not play with people who are mean.